Today this group of fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters are watching their soldier pack their aircraft to deploy to Afghanistan. This first phase will be a trip to their training base in Texas. Later they will make the big trip across the ocean.
I will be posting family group pictures on facebook tonight and tomorrow. The pictures I took are one very strong indicator that this occasion is serious. When I take the camera to the unit Christmas party or other occasions, I get many people who don't want their picture taken or explain that they don't take good pictures.
On this occasion, the usual vanity and shyness is out the window. People either want their picture taken or they don't. Several soldiers said "No, don't want the picture." Most gathered their family around and no one in the group objected.
The families who come to this kind of event do their best to be brave. The mix of smiles and tears changes rapidly from family to family.
The brigade commander and the battalion command sergeant major just arrived for the final departure.